Coping with the monsters of technology

TECH MONSTERS

The explanation runs as follows. Technological innovation is a rich source of new phenomena. These phenomena have to be appropriated to make them fit into our lives and practices. The appropriation process has various aspects, because new technology has to fit into diverse existing orders: social, technical, organizational and others. During the appropriation process both technology and existing social and technical orders are mutually adapted, as a central insight of Science and Technology Studies (STS) tells us. However, new technology also has to be attuned to cultural order, since our perception of technology is mediated by our cultural categories and contemporary myths regarding nature and what it is to be human. Domestication of new technology is a process in which cultural imagination and technological change are intertwined. (Smits: 499)

Smits detects four types of approaches:

  • exorcism: it demonizes the monsterns and hence expels them from engineering education
  • adaption: it reduces the monsters to rational problems
  • embracement: when we fully accept the monsters as part of reality and are
    engulfed
  • assimilation: portrays the technological monsters in their cultural context and in that way reveals the opposite as uniting rather than absolute (only in MODE 3 knowledge)

 

References

Smits, M., Taming monsters: The cultural domestication of new technology. In Technology in Society 28 (2006) 489–504

Borsen, T., Botin, L., 2013. Hybridity and Social responsibility. In Proceedings from the 41st SEFI Conference, 16-20 September 2013, Leuven, Belgium

Image available here

Design with a capital D

DESIGN

RCA Report on the nature of design with a capital D

  • central concern is “the conception and realization of new things”
  • it encompasses the appreciation of “material culture” and the application of “the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing.”
  • at its core is the ‘language’ of ‘modelling’; it is possible to develop students’ aptitudes in this ‘language’, equivalent to aptitudes in the ‘language’ of the sciences – numeracy – and the ‘language’ of humanities – literacy
  • design has its own distinct ‘things to know, ways of knowing them, and ways of finding out about them’

Education in any of these ‘cultures’ entails the following three aspects:

  • the transmission of knowledge about a phenomenon of study
  • a training in the appropriate methods of enquiry
  • an initiation into the belief systems and values of the ‘culture’

If we contrast the sciences, the humanities, and design under each aspect, we may become clearer of what we mean by design, and what is particular to it.
the phenomenon of study in each culture is:

  • in the sciences: the natural world
  • in the humanities: human experience
  • in design: the man-made world

the appropriate methods in each culture are:

  • in the sciences: controlled experiment, classification, analysis
  • in the humanities: analogy, metaphor, criticism, evaluation
  • in design: modelling, pattern-formation, synthesis

the values of each culture are:

  • in the sciences: objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and a concern for ‘truth’
  • in the humanities: subjectivity, imagination, commitment, and a concern for ‘justice’
  • in design: practicality, ingenuity, empathy, and a concern for ‘appropriateness’

Perhaps it would be better to regard the ‘third culture’ as technology, rather than design (…) Technology involves a synthesis of knowledge and skills from both the sciences and the humanities, in the pursuit of practical tasks.

 

References

Cross, N., 1982. Designerly ways of knowling. In Design Studies, Vol. 3, no. 4 pp. 221-227

Image available here

Visitors and Residents, White & Cornu

VISITORS AND RESIDENTS

Visitors and Residents’ is a continuum of modes of engagement which has been well established as a valuable way to understand how individuals engage online (…) a Visitor mode of engagement was likened to people using the Web as a garden shed which they went into to select a tool for a particular purpose. Having completed their task, they shut the shed door and left no visible trace of their entrance or use of the tool behind them. A Resident mode of engagement, on the other hand, was likened to inhabiting a part or parts of the Web. Social media platforms, in particular, offered opportunities to ‘meet’ others, to chat and converse, and to develop relationships. Key to this mode of engagement was the fact that it leaves strong evidence, visible traces, of personal presence through, perhaps, creating a profile, or posting photos, or interacting and communicating with others in a variety of ways

Mapping the range of ways in which individuals engage with the Web, taking into account not only their modes of engagement but also what sort of activities they do in what context and to what extent was the subject of inquiry for two programs dating back in 2009 (Isthmus-Open Habitat project). But with the 2014 “The challenges of Online Residency” program, 17 institutions  were brought together in an attempt to pilot the mapping process in a more formal way (…) the project was designed to help teaching staff better understand the way their students were engaging online (…) The result, after having removed maps we considered to have been created without a proper grasp of the process, was 345 maps from across a broad range of disciplines, educational levels, and higher education providers.

Overall it is clear that engagement genre is not significantly contingent on discipline, level, age, or any other factor. The way people choose to engage online is highly personal, just as their approach to learning is. However, even in this convenient sample a number of broad patterns emerge. Among others:

  • Social Science and HSC have the most Resident-only activity in the institutional portion of the maps
  • The most obvious data pattern is the prominence of the V–R genre, or a map in which every quadrant had some activity in
  • Much of the activity in the IR quadrant is based in fairly mundane platforms such as the VLE and e-mail

 

Full article and Image available here

Historical Progression of Virtual Worlds, by Messinger et al, 2008

frogger

  • Arcade Games: element of real-time video interactivity
  • Console Systems: started as games for single players but subsequent generation permitted players to compete against each other
  • LAN Games: computer-based instead of console-based, unlimited number of participants
  • Internet Connectivity: 90s consoles with compact disks and 32 and 64 bit systems/ 00s ability to connect to the internet, the landscape of video games became more expansive
  • Unstructured Games: freedom for the player to roam around a large world, realistic features like the progression of time etc
  • Games with Player Generation of Content: near-total freedom to within the gaming environment, player omnipotence, players however, still played a game with online components but did not exist in a virtual world.
  • Worlds with Designer-Provided Objectives: avatars can wander where they wish but also gain skills and strengths by earning experience points (MMORPGs)
  • Social Networking Sites: not games per se but helped the creation of virtual worlds, profile creation and support of authorized viewers.
  • Open Virtual Worlds: social interaction between people and their avatars in 3d immersive environments with user-chosen objectives, user-generated content and social networking tools

 

References

Messinger, P.R., Stroulia, E., Lyons, K., 2008. A typology of Virtual Worlds: Historical Overview and Future Directions. In Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, Vol. 1, no. 1, “Virtual Worlds Research: Past, Present & Future,” July 2008.

Image available here

Virtual Communities/ VCs, Porter 2004

porter

VC Definition:

a virtual community is defined as an aggregation of individuals or business partners who interact around a shared interest, where the interaction is at least partially supported and/or mediated by technology and guided by some protocols or norms.

VC Typology:

The proposed typology of virtual communities includes two first-level categories: Member-initiated and Organization-sponsored (…) At the second level of the typology, virtual communities are categorized based on the general relationship orientation of the community. Relationship orientation refers to the type of relationship fostered among members of the community. Member-initiated communities foster either social or professional relationships among members. Organization-sponsored communities foster relationships both among members (e.g., customers, employees) and between individual members and the sponsoring organization.

VC Attributes:

The literature suggests that five attributes could be used to characterize virtual communities:

  1. Purpose : or discourse focus
  2. Place: as in a bounded location (structural) and a sense of shared values (socio-psychological)_ a virtual space is comprised by both a sense of presence and location
  3. Platform: determines synchronicity which in turn enables real-time interaction, focuses only in the technical design of interaction
  4. Population Interaction Structure: 1. VCs as computer supported social networks/ 2. VCs as small groups or networks/ 3. virtual publics versus VCs
  5. Profit Model: tangible economic value

 

References

Porter, C.E., 2004. A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research. In Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10 (1), Article 3.

Image available here

How soon is now?

Catching-a-Real-Ball-in-Virtual-Reality-Image4

  • Real Virtual: virtual environments that represent the real world.
  • Virtual Augmented Real: use of ubiquitous augmented information systems connected to the real world objects (ie. GPS data, pilot’s line of sight measurement etc)
  • Real Augmented Virtual: information from the real world gets embedded into the virtual realm. (ie. Kinect Sports Video Game)
  • Fantastic Virtual: products of unrestrained imagination

 

Reference

Pak, B. Newton, C., Verbeke, J., 2012. Virtual Worlds and Architectural Education: A Typological Framework. In Proceedings of the 30th eCAADe Conference – Volume 1, Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Architecture (Czech Republic) 12-14 September 2012, pp. 739-746.

Image available here

Virtual Village ancestors and the concept of Design Correspondence

VDS

Three experiments on what became known as ‘design correspondence

01:1 991, The Samarkand competition gave an excuse for collaboration between two designers who lived far apart. The exchange involved correspondence via modem and included updated revisions of the project on a daily basis. Soon, they accumulated a large database that was hard to manage.

02: a joint workshop that lasted two weeks between 12 students of architecture who worked in a computerized design studio in Macintosh and UNIX environments connected by an Ethernet local are network. they were given joint areas later called “digital pin up boards” where they could edit and post notions about the common project. again there were difficulties in naming files, managing the resources etc.

03: 25 participants by two institutions far apart, Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. they utilized WAN. students were given the same problem, to design a pre-fabricated warehouse utilizing the technology of concrete tilt-up panels. the exercise lasted two weeks, week one participants downloaded reference material and developed designs for their elementary panel, week two they developed design models for the building. tutors acted as editors. final crit was realized via phone with speakers. review material was exchanged between universities so thatrecords were identical. the list of proposals was displayed on computer screens in both institutions simultaneously. this was the world’s first electronic jury.

 

References

Jerzy Wojtowicz, James N. Davidson and Takehiko Nagakura, 1995, Digital Pinup Board-The Story of the Virtual Village Project. In Virtual Design Studio (ed. Jerzy Wojtowicz), Hong Kong University Press, pp. 09-23

Image available here

Sidney Pressey’s Automatic Teacher

Pressey-Testing-Machine

Pressey wanted the Automatic Teacher to give the human teacher more time for individual students (…) The machine was built out of typewriter parts and employed an intelligence test with 30 questions (…) The user responded to text question using four keys; each time the user pressed a key the machine advanced the test paper to the next question, but the counter registered only correct answers (…) In December 1925 Pressey began to seek investors, first among publishers and manufacturers of typewriters, adding machines, and mimeograph machines, and later, in the spring of 1926, extending his search to scientific instrument makers (…) in contrast to his peers, investors failed to see the virtues of Pressey’s machine (…) multiple efforts were made by him to massively the machine (he even invested his own money) but high production costs and difficulties in alignment made dragged production to an halt (…) after several attempts Pressey publicly admitted defeat. In a third and final School and Society article, he skewered education as “the one major activity in this country which is still in a crude handicraft stage (…) The Automatic Teacher was a technology of normalization, but it was at the same time a product of liberality.

 

References

  1. Petrina, S., 2004. Sidney Pressey and the Automation of Education, 1924-1934. In Technology and Culture, 45(2): 305-330, DOI: 10.1353/tech.2004.0085, full text available here

Image available here

Connectionism

Single-Layer_Neural_Network-Vector-Blank

It is the name for the computer modelling approach to information processing based on the design or architecture of the brain. Connectionist computer models are based on how computation occurs in neural networks where neutrons represent the basic information processing structures in the brain.

All connectionist models consist of four parts:

  • units: they are what neutrons are to the biological neural network, the basic information processing structures. Most connectionist models are computer simulations run on digital computers. Units in such models are virtual objects and are usually represented by circles. A unit receives input, it computes an output signal and then it sends the output to other units. This is called activation value. The purpose of the unit is to compute an output activation.
  • connections: connectionist models are organised in layers of units, usually three (3). A network however, is not simply an interconnected group of objects but an interconnected group of objects that exchange information with one another. Network connections are conduits. The conduits through which information flows from one member of the network to the next are called synapses or connections and are represented with lines. (in biology synapses are the gaps between neutrons, the fluid-filled space through which chemical messengers -neurotransmitters- leave one neutron and enter another)
  • activations: activation value in connectionist models are analogous to a neuron’s firing rate or how actively it is sending signals to other neurons. There is a big variability between the least active and the most active neutrons expressed in a scale fro 0 to 1
  • connection weights: The input activations to a unit are not the only values it needs to know before it can compute its output activation. It also needs to know how strongly or weakly an input activation should affect its behaviour. The strength or weakness of a connection is measured by a connection weight. They range between -1 to 1. Inhibitory connection reduce a neuron’s level of activity; excitatory connections increase it.

Yet, the behaviour of a unit is never determined by an input signal sent via a single connection, however strong or weak that connection might be. It depends on its combined input. That is the sum of each input activation multiplied by its connection weight. The output activation of a unit represents how active it is, not the strength of its signal.

Connectionist networks consist of units and connections between units and have some very interesting features like emergence of behaviour. This does not reduce to any particular unit (liquidity in water). Graceful Degradation and Pattern Completion are two ways in which activations are spread through a network. They are not classical computers, their behaviour does not arise from an algorithm, they learn to behave the way they do.

 

References

Robert Stufflebeam, 2006. Connectionism: An Introduction (pages 1-3), in CCSI (Consortium on Cognitive Science Instruction) supported by the Mind Project, full article available here

Image available here

The ‘University Networks’ project by George Siemens

Networks

It involves working with a small number of universities, or specific faculties and departments, that are committed to rethinking and redesigning how they operate. 30 universities over a period of 4 years will rethink and redesign university operations to align with the modern information and knowledge ecosystem. The intention is to offer innovative teaching and learning opportunities, utilizing effective learning analytics models, integrating learning across all spaces of life, and creating a digital and networked mindset to organization operations

  • cohort model where universities learn from each other
  • centralized consultancy
  • universities working with a fraction of the investment needed in working with a traditional corporation or consultancy firm
  • serve the advancement of science through modern universities while actively researching systemic transformation in higher education

Full text available here/ Image available here

OEB Mid-Summit_Donald Clark’s 10 recommendations

oebmidsummit

  1. HE must lower its costs and scale
  2. Develop different and digital HE model for developing world
  3. Stop talking past each other, talk to each other: Higher Ed has a widespread and deep anti-corporate culture
  4. Don’t lecture me!: ognitive psychology and educational research showed the redundancy of the lecture as a core pedagogic principle (…) we learn through the correction of errors, yet teaching methods fail to recognize this core cognitive fact
  5. Research is not a necessary condition for teaching – break the link: Research skills require systematic thinking, attention to detail, understanding of methods and analysis. Teaching skills require social skills, communication skills, the ability to hold an audience, keep to the right level, avoid cognitive overload, good pedagogic skills and the ability to deliver constructive feedback
  6. Build less. Balance out the capital budget with a substantial digital budget: It is perhaps time to consider, what John Daniel called, a ‘default to digital’ for some courses.
  7. Open up to outside, not just with technology but culturally: there’s some good and real change happening within HE but they tend to be, and remain, outliers; the core system is in stasis
  8. Embrace transformative technology: the complexity of the problems we face and the need for smart, technological solutions in education
  9. Strategic, costed initiatives with change management: recognizing the issues and taking a strategic approach to solutions
  10. Rebalance academic and vocational: pleas for more learning by doing and more apprenticeship

Full article available here/ Image available here

Jane Gilbert’s, ‘Catching the Knowledge Wave’

GILBERT

Knowledge society: the social, economic and political changes that are taking place as countries move from the industrial to the post-industrial age

  • based on developing and exploiting new forms of knowledge
  • shows increase in the creative, technology or service based industries
  • linked with developments in information and communications technologies while people’s understanding of time, space and place are changing
  • new forms of info, new ways of presenting info and new forms of money emerge
  • more complex forms of personal identity
  • in economic terms new work order based on fast capitalism and new forms of production and new management systems. this changes the meaning of knowledge, innovation and learning. knowledge is now innovation, innovation is quality and quality control is knowledge management. knowledge, in the Knowledge Society, has a different meaning from the one it has in educational contexts.

Castells: knowledge is not a thing; it is energy; it is defined by its effectiveness in action and the results it achieves; it’s what causes things to happen; it is sth produced collaboratively by teams of people; it is constantly changing. [The Network Society]

Lyotard: he too advocated for knowledge as energy or ability to do things (performativity); used in an as-and-when-needed basis; many reasons, many truths, many knowledges are possible and desirable; traditional disciplinary boundaries will dissolve; new conceptions of learning will develop; people will develop and understanding of an organized stock of public and professional knowledge to pursue performativity, to apply it to new situations. [The Postmodern Condition]

Knowledge:

  • process, not a thing
  • does things
  • happens in teams
  • can’t be divided into disciplines
  • develops in an as-and-when-needed basis
  • develops to be replaced, not stored

Learning:

  • involves generating new knowledge, not storing
  • is a group activity
  • happens is real-world
  • should be just-in-time not just-in-case
  • needs to be a la carte

Minds are not containers, but resources that can be connected to other resources for the purpose of generating new knowledge

To summarize then, developing a Knowledge Society education system involves approaches that can:
Develop new knowledge – through real research, not teacher-initiated projects. Knowledge Age schools need to be producers – not consumers – of knowledge;
Develop multi-modal literacy (understanding and using non-print modes of making meaning – images, sounds, gestures/body language and so on);
Foreground the relationships, connections and interactions between different knowledge systems and different modes of representation;
Emphasize difference and diversity, not sameness and/or one-size-fits-all approaches;
Foreground process not product;
Help learners build a sense of themselves as active knowledge- builders – as having a unique niche, role and/or point of difference/contribution to make.

 

References

Jane Gilbert, 2010. Catching the Knowledge Wave. In Education Canada Vol 47 (3) www.cea-ace.ca,  ISSN 0013-1253

Image available here